Salman Khan envisions the school of the future, where mastery and empathy are the core values, and the curriculum is driven by self-paced learning.
Salman Khan: When you are 14, you need to be learning…that’s silly. You need to be learning exponents once you really understand multiplication. And you need to be learning negative number once you really understand the number line. Once you get rid of the stigma and you open it up and everyone’s a learner and everyone’s just on the same playing field, it actually is empowering for everyone.
I have a two-year-old son named Ron and obviously I care about what his academic experience is going to look like. And I’m hoping that when he’s five or six that he goes to a classroom that not only has five or six-year-olds in it, but it has kids of all ages in one classroom. It’s kind of a reversion back to the one-room schoolhouse. And when he goes to that classroom, some part of his day, and I’m not talking about the whole day, maybe 20 or 30 minutes of the day, especially for the core subjects, are spent on the Khan Academy watching videos. And by that time it won’t just be mathematics and science. It’ll be grammar, it’ll be vocabulary.
He starts at the most basic concepts, he doesn’t more on to more advanced concepts until he shows that he is 110 percent proficient on the more basic ones and then it moves them on. And he gets data and he gets feedback and his teachers get feedback. And the paradigm is that all of these students at all different ages are all going to be working at their own pace in every class, in grammar, in mathematics, in everything. The teacher, instead of having to give this one-size-fits-all lecture to everybody, he or she can now look at the data and see where every student is and the software identifies who is stuck.
The teacher every now and then will sit next to Emron and help Emron as a mentor, actually have that human interaction, and even better, if the teacher isn’t around or even if the teacher is around it might be better for Emron to be tutored by one of his peers, maybe another six-year-old, maybe a 10-year-old who is a little ahead of the curve, who is well-respected as a teacher already. I mean, what’s really exciting about this is this is an interactive experience. I cringe at the idea of my son in a room, at the same rooms that I used to sit in, sitting like this, staring at the clock waiting for the bell to ring. I don’t want him to do that for 12 years. I want him interacting with his peers. I want him teaching his peers. I want my son to be respected in his classroom not because he got a perfect on his SAT’s, not because he’s the smartest kid in the class. I want him to be respected because he’s the best teacher in the class because he communicates well, because he has empathy for his peers because he’s always willing to stop what he is doing to help one of his friends. I think if that happens, I wouldn’t worry too much about what my son does afterwards.